Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"...the next California gold rush."

Oh fucking swell. I hope it works out better than the unmitigated disaster the last one was.

Yes, California is as fucked-up as Hogan's goat. No, short of The Big One we're not going away, despite the efforts of every Repug governor and generations of screwed-up legislators in my (long) memory.

I don't give reading assignments, but I'd really like you to read this Time cover article. Quite long, and speaking as the Brain's California expert (cough), quite good.

Notice that the magazine cover is a circuit board in the shape of the state. A 'tank circuit' perhaps, signifying the tank we're supposed to be going into?

California, you may have heard, is an apocalyptic mess of raging wildfires, soaring unemployment, mass foreclosures and political paralysis. It's dysfunctional. It's ungovernable. Its bond rating is barely above junk. It's so broke, it had to hand out IOUs while its leaders debated how many prisoners to release and parks to close. Nevada aired ads mocking California's business climate to lure its entrepreneurs. The media portray California as a noir fantasyland of overcrowded schools, perpetual droughts, celebrity breakdowns, illegal immigration, hellish congestion and general malaise, captured in headlines like "Meltdown on the Ocean" and "California's Wipeout Economy" and "Will California Become America's First Failed State?"

Actually, it won't.

nore the California whinery. It's still a dream state. In fact, the pioneering megastate that gave us microchips, freeways, blue jeans, tax revolts, extreme sports, energy efficiency, health clubs, Google searches, Craigslist, iPhones and the Hollywood vision of success is still the cutting edge of the American future — economically, environmentally, demographically, culturally and maybe politically. It's the greenest and most diverse state, the most globalized in general and most Asia-oriented in particular at a time when the world is heading in all those directions. It's also an unparalleled engine of innovation, the mecca of high tech, biotech and now clean tech. In 2008, California's wipeout economy attracted more venture capital than the rest of the nation combined. Somehow its supposedly hostile business climate has nurtured Google, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Facebook, Twitter, Disney, Cisco, Intel, eBay, YouTube, MySpace, the Gap and countless other companies that drive the way we live.

Today, it's still the home of the new new thing. It is electric-vehicle start-ups like Tesla, Fisker and Better Place taking on the Big Three, or the local-organic foodies behind California cuisine going after Big Ag. It's Kaiser Permanente, the HMO whose model of salaried doctors in group practice may be the future of health care, or the University of California at Irvine's law school, which opened this semester with free tuition and was instantly more selective than Harvard or Yale. It's SpaceX, the private rocket-launching company, or Kogi, the Korean taco truck that announces its location over Twitter to flash mobs of Angelenos. "The beauty of California is the idea that you can reinvent yourself and do something totally creative," says Kogi's Roy Choi, a former chef at the Beverly Hilton. "It's still the Wild West that way."

I could quote the article for days. But I won't. I wanta go get a taco, extra kimchee, please...

California, to borrow a phrase, will be back.

Me too, and I hope my breath will blister paint after a coupla them (con)fusion tacos. Enjoy.

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